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Salvation- Path of Jainism

Moksha Marg.

Three- fold path of Salvatiom.

From the basic principles of Jaina philosophy, it is evident that the inherent powers of the soul are crippled by its association with karmic matter and that is why every person is found in an imperfect state. The Jaina philosophy, therefore, asserts that real and everlasting happiness will be obtained by a person only when the karmas are completely removed from the soul. Further Jainism firmly believes that even though man is imperfect at present, it is quite possible for him to rid himself of karmas associated with his soul by his own personal efforts without any help from an outside agency. Moreover, it is quite clear that according to Jaina philosophy the highest happiness consists in securing final emancipation from the cycle of births and deaths and in attaining the state of liberated soul, that is, obtaining Moksha or salvation. Furthermore, the Jain philosophy reiterates that this world is full of sorrow and trouble, it is quite necessary to achieve the aim of transcendental bliss by a sure method.

When the goal has been ascertained the next question arises regarding the way how to achieve that objective. To this question the Jaina religion has a definite answer. In this connection, the Tattvärth-ãdhigama-sutra, the most sacred text of jainism, emphatically states in its first aphoristic rule, Samyag-darsana-jnäna-chäritrani moksha märgah i.e.samyag-darsana (right belief), samyag- jnäna (right knowledge) and samyak-chäritra (right conduct) together constitute the path of salvation. The right belief, right knowledge and right conduct are also called ratna-traya or the three jewels in Jaina works.

It is pertinent to note that these are not severally considered as different paths but are thought to form together a single path. That is why it is firmly maintained that these three must be present together to constitute the path of salvation. Since all the three are emphasized equally, since mokshamärga, i.e. way to salvation, is impossible without the unity of all the three, it is obvious that Jainism is not prepared to admit any one of these three in isolation as means of salvation. 

Right Belief

The term Right  Belief has been defined by ächärya Umäsvämï in his authoritative Jaina sacred text entitled Tattvärth-ãdhigama-sutra viz. Chapter 1, sutra 2, as follows:-

" Tattvärthasraddhänam Samyag-darsanam"

means  "Belief in realities ascertained as they are is right faith".  

that is, right belief is the faith in the true nature of the substances as they are, In other words, right belief means true and firm conviction in the seven principles or tattvas of Jainism as they are, without any perverse notions.

Further, it is maintained that right belief consists in believing that

i).   The Jaina Arhantas including the Tirthankaras are the true Gods.

ii).   The Jaina sashtras are the true scriptures and

iii).  The Jaina Gurus are the true preceptors.


Moreover, it is also asserted that such right belief should 

(a)   have eight essential requisites called angas,(parts)

(b)    be free from three kinds of müdhatäs  (Wrong Beliefs), i.e. 

         superstitious beliefs, and

(c)    be free from eight kinds of mada, i.e. pride or arrogance.


Requisites of samyag-darsana ( Right Belief):-

These eight angas which supports the of samyag-darsana ( Right Belief) are as follows:-

(i)   Nihsankita-anga that is free from doubt about the belief of Jainism.

(ii)   Nihkanksita-anga that is no desire for worldly enjoyment as every    

       thing   is to vanish (evanescent).

(iii)   Nirvichikitsita-anga that is, one should decline to have an attitude of scorn (an emotion involving hate) towards the body (of Gurus/Munies)even though is having impurities because of certain disease etc as it can be purified with the help and practice of ratna-traya.

(iv)   Amûdhadrsti-anga that is, one should have no inclination for the 

        wrong path or one should be free from perversity and superstition.

(v)    Upagûhan-anga that is, one should maintain spiritual excellence and 

         protect the prestige of that faith when it is faced with the risk of being 

         belittled on account of the follies and shortcomings of others. In other 

         words, one should praise the pious but should not deride those may be 

         faltering in their pursuit of religion.

(vi)    Sthitikarana-anga that is, one should sustain souls in right convictions

         One should have the quality of rehabilitating others in the path of right faith

         or conduct by preaching them or reminding them of the religious truth 

         whenever they are found to be going astray.

(vii)   Vätsalya-anga that is, one should have loving regard for pious persons.

         One should show affection towards co-religionists and respect them with 

         courtesy  and looking after their comforts.

(viii)   Prabhävanä-anga that is, one should endeavor to demonstrate and 

         propagate the greatness of Jaina tenets and scriptures. One should try to

         wean people from wrong practices and beliefs by establishing to them the

         importance of the true religion by arranging religious functions and 



Avoidance of superstitious beliefs:-  


It is also laid down in Jaina scriptures that the right belief should be free from the following three kinds of mûdhatäs, i.e., superstitious beliefs:-


(i)   Loka- Mûdhatä is the falser belief in holiness. It relates to taking bath 

      in certain rivers, jumping down in the peaks of mountains and entry into fires

      under the supposition of acquiring merit for themselves or for their Kith and 


(ii)  Deva-Mûdhatä is the belief in false Gods. This superstition consists in believing in gods and goddess who are credited with passionate and destructive powers, willing to oblige the devotees by grant of favors they pray for.


(iii) Päkhandi-Mûdhatä is the belief in respect for dubious ascetics. It shows 

      regards for false ascetics and considers their teaching as gospel of truth. It refers to entertainment of false ascetics and respecting them with a hope to get some favors from them through magical or mysterious powers exercised for personal gain or show of power.


Freedom from Pride


Besides the avoidance of these three kinds of superstitious beliefs, the mind must be made free from eight kinds of mada or pride as follows:-

    • Jñäna-pride of learning
    • Pujä- Pride of worship
    • Kula- Pride of family
    • Jäti-Pride of cast or family
    • bala-Pride of one's own strength or power.
    • riddhi-pride of wealth
    • tapas- pride of religious austerities and
    • vapus-pride of person or beautiful form or appearance.
It is obvious that all or any one or more of these of pride are likely to disturb the equilibrium of mind, and create likes or dislikes for men and matters. In such a case understanding is likely to be erroneous, if not perverted Hence it is necessary that for the blissful drawn of right belief there should be an effacement of these types of pride.Thus if we attain right faith, abstain from misconception and refrain from pride, quality of our lives would improve considerably. The main cause of soul wandering in this world is the lack of right faith. So, right faith step on path of salvation. Right faith gives us proper attitude by which our knowledge and conduct acquire the quality of righteousness. The Right Belief is given precedence over Right Knowledge and Right Conduct because it acts as a pilot in guiding the soul towards moksha, i.e. salvation. Further, there can be no rise, stability growth and fulfillment of knowledge and character, unless they are founded on right belief or faith


It is considered desirable that on attuning right belief one should strive after right knowledge. As regards the relationship between right belief and right knowledge it has been specifically stated that although right belief and right knowledge are contemporaneous, there is yet a clear relation of cause and effect between them, just as it is between a lamp and its light. It is true that lamp and light go together, still the lamp precedes the light, and the light cannot be said to precede the lamp. In the same way there is the relation of cause and effect between right belief and right knowledge, though both are almost simultaneous. Right Knowledge cannot precede right belief, and from this point of view right knowledge is called the effect and right belief , the cause.


Nature of Right Knowledge

Right knowledge has been described in Jaina scriptures as "  that knowledge which reveals the nature of things neither insufficiently, nor with exaggeration, nor falsely, but exactly as it is and with certainty." It has also been stated that right knowledge consists in having full comprehension of the real nature of soul and non-soul (i.e., matter)  and that such knowledge should be free from sam'saya,

i.e. doubt, vimoha, i.e., perversity, and vibhrama, i.e., vagueness or indefiniteness.

Moreover, Jaina scriptures always assert that knowledge is perfect when it does not suffer from the mithyätva, i.e., wrong belief. Mithyätva is  the enemy of right knowledge as it perverts both the understanding and the attitude. That is why all Jaina thinkers have insisted upon the elimination of wrong belief from mind. Hence Jainism insists that right knowledge cannot be attained, unless wrong knowledge is banished.


Kind of Knowledge 


When considered with reference to its means of acquisition, knowledge is of five kinds:-

(i)    Mati-jñäna (sense-knowledge) is knowledge of self and non0self acquired by means of any of the five senses and the mind. Obviously this kind of knowledge is limited to things and matters in existence.

(ii)   Sruta-jñäna (scriptural knowledge) is derived from the reading or hearing of scriptures.   Sruta-jñäna is not limited to the things in existence but it can comprehend all matters of the present, past and future as expounded in the scriptures.

(iii)  Avadhi-jñäna (clairvoyant knowledge) is knowledge of things in distant time or place. it is knowledge of remote or past and future. It can be acquired by saints who have attained purity of thought and developed their mental capacity by austerities. It is otherwise possessed by the celestial and infernal souls.

(iv)   Manah- paryaya-jñäna  (mental knowledge) is direct knowledge of another's mental activity, that is, about thoughts and feelings of others. It can be acquired by those who have gained self-mastery or samyama.

(v)   Kevala- jñäna (perfect knowledge or omniscience) is full or perfect knowledge without the limitations of time and space, which is the soul's characteristic in its pure and indefinable condition. It draws on the Tirthankars and perfect souls.


In conclusion, it can be specifically maintained that both right belief and right knowledge are very closely associated with each other just as the association between a lamp and its light. Even though lamp and light are together, there must be a lamp which must have oil and wick be\fore it could be lighted. Similarly, before right knowledge can be gained, there must be the inexhaustible piety and urge for knowledge which is the oil; the source of knowledge like scriptures, discourses from preceptors and saints are wick; the pursuit and study with devotion are like lighting the lamp; then only there can be light in the form of knowledge.


Right Conduct


After right belief and right knowledge, the third, but the most important path to the goal of moksha, i.e. salvation, is right conduct. In Jainism utmost importance is attached to the right conduct because right belief and right knowledge equip the individual with freedom from delusion and consequently equip him with true knowledge of the fundamental principles clarifying what are worthy of renunciation and realization and ultimately lead to right conduct as an integral and crowning constituent of path of salvation. that is why conduct which is inconsistent with right knowledge is considered as wrong conduct or misconduct. Hence conduct becomes perfect only when it is in tune with right belief and right knowledge. It is, therefore, enough to point out that the importance of right conduct in the process of self realization consists in the fact that it is only when right knowledge based on right belief is translated into practical and spiritual discipline that the path of emancipation of soul from the cycle of births and deaths becomes smooth.


It is clear that in accordance with Jaina philosophy right conduct presuppose the presence of right knowledge which presupposes the existence of right belief. Therefore the Jaina scriptures have enjoined upon the persons who have secured right belief and right knowledge to observe the rule of right conduct, as destruction of karmic matter associated with soul can be accomplished only through the practice of  right conduct.


 Right conduct includes the rules of discipline which (i) restrain all censurable movements of mind, speech and body, (ii) weaken and destroy all passionate activity and (iii) lead to non-attachment and purity.


Further,  Right conduct has been conceived of two kinds or categories according to the degree of intensity of actual practice of rule of behavior laid down under  right conduct. these two kinds are (i) Sakaka-chäritra, i.e., complete or perfect or unqualified; and (ii) Vikala-chäritra, i.e. partial or imperfect or qualified conduct. Sakaka-chäritra involves the practice of all the rules of the conduct with vigour and higher degree of spiritual sensitivity while the Vikala-chäritra, involves the practice of the with as much increasing degree of diligence, severity and purity as might be possible.


Further, it may be noted that (i) Sakaka-chäritra is meant for and observed by ascetics who have renounced worldly ties, and is also known as muni-dharma; and (ii) Vikala-chäritra is meant for and observed by laymen who are still entangled in the world and, is also known as shrävak-dharma,i.e. the householder's dharma. The right conduct is based on the practice of Ahimsa, Satya, Acaurya, brahamcarya and Aprigraha.  It should be emphasized that the Right conduct also includes all religious and spiritual practices like worship, prayer, charity and so on.


Thus, we can achieve salvation only through the three jewels of 

Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct.



                                                                                                                           The end.


"The hypocrisy is behavior without real Knowledge "

Note:- The contents of this article are the extract from the book 'Aspects of Jaina

religion written by Dr Vilas A. Sangavie and  Religion and culture of the Jais written by

Dr. Jyoti Prasad Jain apart from other Jaina literature.

The words shown in Italic are from Prakrit Language.



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